What is WAX? Your Guide to the Largest NFT Market & the Confounding World of CPU, RAM, and Never-Enough Staking
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What is WAX? Your Guide to the Largest NFT Market & the Confounding World of CPU, RAM, and Never-Enough Staking

By PopPopPrego | The Fascination | 26 May 2021


I took a solemn oath that I would be a more positive, optimistic fellow. Well, of course recent days in the crypto markets have made that challenging. It sometimes feels like we are slowly sinking into a pool that has no bottom. But hey, everyone likes pool! Yippee!!

And, also of course, I am active on platforms that rely on Wax. That means I am destined for sadness! Wax also has felt like slowly sinking into a pool that has no bottom. Only this pool also feels like it is slowly cooking me. I am starting to wonder if it is all Wax's fault.

How dare I say this? Wax is the wonderful doorway to the magical world of NFTs and Alien Worlds and Nifty Wizards and CryptoMonkeys and all other assets that make life worthwhile, isn't it? It is easy, practically free, instantaneous, and completely free of the soul-scraping speculum that is CAPTCHA, right?

Well. Let's just say "Yes" for now, and then I will give you my completely biased view of what has become something of a WAX death spiral for me.

What is WAX?

WAX is both a suite of tokens and shorthand for the currency that runs a couple of mega-popular games and a leading NFT marketplace. Depending on how you enter the World of WAX, WAX might also become shorthand for the Wax Cloud Wallet, which you might use to sign in to your favorite games, trading exchanges, marketplaces, and block explorers. 

WAX operates on the EOS block chain, which is its own complicated world to discuss in another post. 

In principal, all you need to get going in NFTs or in some of the more popular blockchain games is a Wax account. There are several ways to do this, and I will refer you to an excellent post Mynima to help you decide if you'd like to go the easy route or the slightly more difficult route. I suspect most people choose the easy route of signing up for a Wax Cloud Wallet. You only need an email and a password, which makes it easy (and of course also leaves you pretty vulnerable to being phished into giving up your assets so be careful if you go this route).

Once you have the wallet set up, you can start exploring NFT trading sites like Atomic Hub, playing games like Alien Worlds, or buying NFT packs direct from publishers like Street Fighter or Topps.

There are two critical gatekeepers you will encounter once you get more active on WAX. Allow me to introduce you to CPU and RAM. I find RAM to be unfortunate but vaguely logical, and I find CPU to be an insane sociopath that will only rest when it has all of my money. There also is NET, which seems about as relevant to how I operate on WAX as the price of french fries on Mars. 

We will tackle each of these, starting with the most straight-forward, RAM, which is a fee, plain and simple.

RAM

As I understand it, RAM is used to keep adding to your personal blockchain. Every transaction you make creates data, which needs to be added to the overall transaction record for the assets assigned to your account. When you pick up a free NFT, the data for that NFT needs to be added to your account's record. When you find a sucker, err, I mean buyer, (haha, I kid because I love!) for that free NFT you picked up, the data for letting go of that NFT needs to be added to your account's record. RAM is how transaction verifiers are rewarded for adding such data to your account. It is like part of the gas or miner's fees you have grown to hate (and thought you could avoid by moving over to WAX hahahahahahaha!). RAM is unfortunate but necessary in a blockchain that manages so much data. After all, the whole point of NFTs, for example, are that they are truly yours. That is only true if there is a transaction record proving it.

I have terrible, horrible luck. This is just a fact. There is a lifetime of data showing that the second I sit down at the blackjack table, the dealer goes on a 15-hand 20 or 21 streak. And the second I get up from the roulette table, the 18-roll black streak finally ends and everyone else's red bets finally pay off (I am of course broke at this point). We are talking fact here! Unlike essentially everyone I know, I have never gotten an NFT that is worth anything from all my months of mining, so I need to build my assets the hard way, by buying/acquiring and selling. This means lots of little transactions. According to Atomic Hub, which is the marketplace I used to acquire and sell NFTs, I have bought 448 WAX worth of NFTs (about $78 as I write) and sold 1380 WAX worth (about $240). Almost all of that has been trying to make money buying and selling AlienWorld NFTs, such as in-demand mining tools. The RAM cost of those transactions currently sits at 26 WAX, and I will need to buy more RAM very soon. So, in terms of WAX gone forever, I have spent about $5-$6 in RAM fees. I think that is...OK, but hardly life-changing, and some distance away from the dream of an ultra-low cost cryptocurrency.

CPU - Shiny Turd in Your Bowl of Ramen

But where RAM is gone-forever transaction expenses, CPU and NET are supposedly great advances over transaction fees because you stake WAX in order to be given various amounts of CPU and NET. If you ever want to, you can supposedly unstake all your WAX and spend all of it on a brand new NFT of Kanye West and Taylor Swift fighting over a microphone (If you give me 8000 WAX, I will make this for you). CPU and NET function to give you bandwidth and access to the stream of blockchain transactions. It is kind of like having a special Platinum Card that allows you to drive in the express lane and make shit-faces at the suckers stuck in traffic. 

When I was starting in this weirdo ecosystem, I loved that once I got my RAM problem figured out, I could just swap stuff around, sell an AlienWorlds shovel and a white dude face here, buy a capacitor and a sort of alien guy there. Atomic Hub, which is where I have been doing my trading takes its (pretty high) fee, AlienWorlds takes another fee (both from the seller), and I get my new mostly useless pictures to look at. Eventually, I started trading my TLM for WAX. I had thousands of the stuff because once upon a time in the olden days, random basic tools could get you 30-40 TLM each hour. And the next eventually I had more WAX than I knew what to do with. Did I need any more NFTs of random shapes or animals with cryptocurrency emblems on them? Well, no. I had noticed this "Staking" button on Wax Cloud Wallet. Even more exciting I saw the phrase "Staking Rewards!" Now, while everyone else was staking CUB or CAKE or FARM, I decided I would be not even nearly as cool and earn big staking rewards with WAX! It was like I was drag racing a McLaren P1 with a VW Karmann Ghia. At the time I decided to do this, I had conducted scores of transactions every day without ever thinking about CPU or NET. I clicked "Stake" and then waited for my rewards. I think the APY is 1% or something. I staked 100 WAX and would earn .003 WAX per day. It was silly but it was at least a place for me to store my WAX. 

Then the TLM-on-Binance-FOMOgeddon happened. I unstaked almost all my WAX, sending it to KuCoin for trading, or buying TLM to send to my BSC wallet. I cleared the cupboards, and even sold all my best tools just to cash in while the getting was good. Soon after, Alien Worlds announced 1,000,000 users. Then the Topp's Baseball thing dropped, then there were gnomes and grafitti artists from UK and upgrades to R-Planet and about 42 thousand NFT collections devoted to marijuana and suddenly I couldn't do anything. Insufficient CPU messages swarmed my vision. NET was never a problem. To this day I have no idea what it does or why we need it, but with 2 WAX staked I have never gone over 4% NET used. CPU, however was an ever-moving and ever-shrinking target. 

Your CPU is affected by two numbers. The "ms" of CPU you have used and the "ms" of CPU your staking has reserved for you. This creates a fraction: CPU-used/CPU-staked. If CPU-used is larger than CPU-staked, your CPU use will exceed 100%, then you don't get to do anything on WAX, not even stake more CPU so you can do something on WAX (or any supported system like AlienWorlds, R-Planet, Koloboks or whatever). The more you do crap on WAX, the more CPU you use. It cools off and resets after many hours, but essentially you can use it until you don't have it, then wait and it will get back to a usable level. Or it used to. 

Recently, after 8 hours of sleep, I woke up and was out of CPU. That is correct, after doing nothing, I had used up my CPU. Haha! It was because that second number, the amount of CPU my staked WAX reserved for me was shrinking. This makes me crazy. CRAZY! You really never know if you have enough WAX staked because the amount that you get for your staking changes all the time. This creates a kind of blind auction dynamic where if you want to engage with any of the platforms and feel certain that you won't get shut down for lack of CPU, then you just...keep staking. Forever. It really never seems to get better in WaxWorld. Wax spokespeople of some sort have announced they are working on plans to rein in the CPU disaster, but I am not holding my breath. In fact, in the 3 hours I have spent writing this, I have not been able to do anything because of insufficient CPU, and the % of CPU I have "used" has gone from 102% to 123% - again, without me doing anything. Instead, the value of the WAX I have staked keeps shrinking in terms of CPU reserved.

Now granted, I *only* have 60 WAX staked, which gets me much less CPU now than 30 WAX got me 2-3 weeks ago. I have seen my 60 WAX rewarded with as few as 16 "ms" of usable CPU. That is crazy. The numbers themselves do not mean that much to me, but I used to get 70+ms for about 20 WAX only a few weeks ago. Now THAT is a kind of inflation that I can get angry about!

For a community that complains all the time - rightfully so - about insane gas and transaction fees, we are pretty calm about the fact that it now seems very reasonable to advise people to stake 200 WAX or ~$30, just to claim some free NFTs or mine .0083 TLM. We tell ourselves that because it is staked and not a transaction cost that we can always unstake it. But this is surely a delusion. You would need to be prepared to fully liquidate all of your NFTs and just stop doing anything with AlienWorlds or any of your other games and dapps in order to really unstake. You can't create NFTs, you can't trade or receive NFTs, and, of course, you might never again have enough WAX to be able to stake WAX to get CPU to get back into it again without swapping another crypto for it. Your investments in NFTs will be trapped in WaxWorld. Those staking promises are more like locked costs, and it is surpassingly likely that your 200 WAX will need to be 400 WAX soon, and then 800 WAX...

Is this hot tub getting a bit hot?

The Most Fun You Can Have Trading Shitcoins

If you did decide you wanted to unstake and try to sell your WAX for other crypto, you can do that too. Perhaps you are interested in acquiring some more TLM so that you can vote in the Planetary something-or-other on AlienWorlds, or perhaps you want to try your hand at combining elements in R-Planet. You can do that! Maybe you simply want to swap your WAX for wholesome coins like WEED, XXX, PORN, or SATAN...a whole world is open for you! I personally like to swap around with my homies TLM, DUST, PGL, and of course GNOKEN. They all sound completely made-up! That is the beauty of it! How can you feel bad if you make a poor trade of a Gnome-based token (yeah, Gnoken) and something that is literally called "VOID"? Whatever you want to do with your WAX, you will want to do it on wax.alcor.exchange. Your other option is to send WAX directly to one of the few exchanges that trades it, such as KuCoin. KuCoin provides useful instructions, and Alcor is pretty intuitive for Cryptoworld (which is to say that it is intensely confusing but you will eventually figure it out). 

Probably the majority of CPU I actually use goes to wasting time swapping and throwing ridiculous shitcoins into Liquidity Pools. Yes, DeFi has come to Wax. If you don't mind the excoriations of Impermanent Loss of your devilish overlord SATAN tokens then you can jump in and out of LPs under the "Swap" button on Alcor. If you are a marijuana connoisseur and life won't be complete unless you can supply WEED-INDICA liquidity, then you can even start your own LP and be the first arbitrator! This means that (not for the first time) the internet could have MOO-PORN! (LP, but still!!) Tell me you have had a more entertaining thought than that today!

Of course, all this costs - err, sorry, of course I mean requires fully redeemable staking - CPU. And, as you add transaction after transaction of SHE, BABE, RED, PURPLE, and MOO to your account, you will need RAM, too. RAM at least is what it is. It is a crappy lager from a well-worn tap. You know it will taste like SHE-BABE-MOO piss, but that is part of the deal. CPU is more like SNAKEY-PORN or SATAN-WEED. Sounds like harmless good fun and you can quit any time. But once SATAN-WEED has your soul, it never gives it back.

If you decide that you need some free or cheap NFTs or that it is not too late to party on Alien Worlds or on R-Planet, or if you have always wanted Street Fighter or Major League Baseball cards, then you will need to do the following:

  • Pick a wallet and set it up. I still use Wax Cloud Wallet like an idiot and while I know it is not super secure, trying to set up Anchor wallet on a PC desktop outsmarted me one too many times. 
  • Find a way to get WAX. You can buy it on KuCoin and send it over, or buy it through the Wax Cloud Wallet portal. Or you can start playing one of the many Wax-friendly games, but I think that only Alien Worlds will let you get going for free. There are numerous guides to Alien Worlds, but essentially you will get a free shovel and you will click "mine" every once in awhile and you might get 1 TLM to trade for 1 WAX after a few days or a week or so. Or you can search all the Free NFT assets on Telegram or Torum and click like a SATAN-BABE watching XXX-RACCOON and get some decent NFTs that you can sell for bits of Wax.
  • If you don't buy WAX, make sure you watch your RAM and CPU because mining Alien Worlds and getting NFTs will use both. It is best to connect your WAX-friendly wallet to bloks,io where you can specifically direct your staking to CPU and you can buy RAM as needed. If you stake through Wax Cloud Wallet, it seems to just split it, which wastes WAX on the mysterious NET.
  • Keep staking freedom-loving NFT hoarder! This is your new life.

I feel a bit like a whiny little GLITCH complaining about the sneaky high cost of participating in WaxWorld's CPU shakedown. I certainly am in positive territory for profits, and I have hundreds of NFTs, and even some NFTs that truly make me happy (yes, usually this is because they are so terrible they are awesome, but happy is still happy). At the same time, I feel so annoyed about the never-enough staking problem, and it is no fun to be locked out of the games I play, the NFT trading I like, and the crazy tokens I like to swap. I will keep at it, but Cryptoworld is all about the fun and the outlandish dream that somehow I will make money here. Hitting constant dead ends and having to pay more and more to do it feels like the opposite of that dream. 

And yet, here I sit, the heat getting turned up every day or so, adding more and more WAX to the fire underneath me. It's getting a bit hot!

But hey, I am sure you're looking for a nice NFT of badly drawn fruit, right? I got you covered!

 

~~~~~

Well, if the market has you shell-shocked and you are still sad about missing that Bitcoin-themed llama/raccoon/dolphin/dog/gnome/waifu NFT of your dreams, you can cheer yourself up by playing games with a hamster on Rollercoin, or by earning interest on your stablecoins with Celsius. My referral links are below, and if you use them, I might be able to stake enough CPU to buy more SNAKEY tokens on Alcor. Thanks!

>>>Rollercoin lets you play retro games or buy virtual mining rigs to earn BTC, ETH, or DOGE: https://rollercoin.com/?r=kl4g3m6h 

>>>Join Celsius Network using my referral code 160685ab0a when signing up and you will receive $40 when you purchase or deposit $400 through them https://celsiusnetwork.app.link/160685ab0a (Full KYC is required for US folks at least)

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PopPopPrego
PopPopPrego

Curious explorer of Cryptoworld


The Fascination
The Fascination

In this blog I tackle the crypto world from the view of a true beginner, more used to 401ks and index funds than DeFi, DEX, and DOGE. I share reviews and unexpected complications in pursuit of the fascination.

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